The strong personalities of Fontcreuse

The history

Château de Fontcreuse is an elegant building that was completed in 1700.

It was at the beginning of the 18th century that the residence was endowed with running water, a rarity indeed at that time. The source of the water was underground springs, that fed a gallery hollowed out under the hill that supplied the estate and its outbuildings with water, hence the name Château « Fontcreuse » (literally hollow fount).

Until the 1920s, mixed farming was practiced at Fontcreuse as it was at all Provencal agriculture estates. It was only in 1922, when acquired by Colonel Teed, that the Château de Fontcreuse began to move towards viticulture.

Colonel Teed, a British officer of the Indian army loved to holiday on the French Riviera. During one of his peregrinations, he discovered Cassis and literally fell in love with the place. He then decided to settle there and acquired the Château de Fontcreuse.

Fontcreuse soon became his passion. It was then that Colonel Teed redoubled his efforts, with the emphasis on quality, with the aim of developing a great White Wine that would forge the reputation of Fontcreuse.

That gentleman farmer, a refined and cultivated man, was also the friend of many British authors. Hence it was not by chance that Virginia Woolf became a regular visitor to Cassis. Moreover, the author penned a number of books, in 1925 and 1929, in the stunning Bergère, a little house that is still standing today below the vines of Fontcreuse, still affording an enchanting view of the hills in all seasons.

In 1953, the Domaine de Fontcreuse became the property of Joseph Maffei, although still under the British flag, so to speak. At the beginning of the second world war, Joseph Maffei Cassidain by birth, in fact, joined the Royal Air Force only to return to civilian life in 1949.

Shot down with his bombardier over Berlin, then taken prisoner, he escaped and returned to British soil to join the fight once again. Companion of the Liberation, a restless and forthright man, Joseph Maffei journeyed through life with the same spirit and enthusiasm as on the day he enlisted to serve his country. It is thanks to this exceptional man that Fontcreuse remains loyal to the tradition that forged the reputation of the Château de Fontcreuse wine.
In 1987, shortly before his death, Joseph Maffei, a man of foresight, sold and transmitted Fontcreuse to Jean-François Brando whose mission has since been maintaining its heritage and prestige of Fontcreuse. With passion, Fontcreuse combines its Terroir, its Tradition, a true respect for the progress of yesteryear, to implement today’s advances that will form the Tradition of tomorrow.

The birthplace of a great white wine

The “Terroir”

The Château de Fontcreuse estate stretches over 28 hectares at the foot of the Couronne de Charlemagne on North-east Northwest-facing clayey-limestone soil over cretaceous rocks.

This maximum north-facing exposure is one of the conditions essential to producing small quantities of truly excellent quality White.

Vine growing employs traditional methods: tilling, debudding in springtime and green harvests in July in view of controlling yields that rarely exceed 40 hectolitres/hectare.

Reds are limited to 30 hectolitres per hectare through controlled production, some of the green fruit is pruned.

For Fontcreuse, Marsanne is the choice

The vines

White grapes

Fontcreuse is essentially planted with White grape varieties, producing in the region of 110,000 bottles of White Wine each year. The assemblage of Fontcreuse White Wine is composed of 60% Marsanne, 15% Clairette, 25% Ugni Blanc.

Marsanne, with its round berries, produces a green juice delivering both degree and aroma. It delivers finesse and a lingering taste on the palate.

Clairette, boasting large ellipsoidal grapes of a low yield. It delivers freshness and persistency.

Ugni Blanc, with its cylindrical berries, brings to Fontcreuse White Wine a delicate touch of acidity indispensable to its balance.

Red grapes

Fontcreuse red grape varieties produce in the region of 40,000 bottles of Rosé and 25,000 bottles of Red Wine. The assemblage of Fontcreuse Rosé Wine is made up of 80% Grenache and 20% Cinsault. The assemblage of Red Wine is comprised of 50% Syrah and 50% Caladoc.

Grenache, slightly oval in shape, is perfectly adapted to the Mediterranean “terroir”, is a variety that stands up well to drought. It gives Fontcreuse Rosé Wines their great character, elegance, fullness and richness.

Cinsault, oval and elongated berries with a sweet and juicy flesh, brings to the Rosé characteristics of ripe red fruit and finesse.

Syrah, cylindrical in shape with little ovoid and compact berries of a black plum, produces intense red juice offering up spicy aromas of red fruit and violets. It delivers a strong tannic structure while remaining silky with good aging potential.

Caladoc, a Grenache and Côt mix of small round black berries, slightly juicy, very fruity, deep in colour, rich in tannins; in a small yield its wine in these assemblage conditions are used to soften the Syrah.

When the grape expresses the best of itself


White and rosé wines
Manual harvests begin at the end of August when the grapes have reached their peak of ripeness. After picking the grapes they are transported to the winery in small crates to prevent crushing.

The grapes are then destemmed, crushed and lightly pressed, in a pneumatic press. Then the juice is gravity-racked in a thermoregulated vat set to 12°, to allow the « bourbe » or suspension deposit to settle at the bottom of the vat.

The racking operation lasts 24 hours. The next day these deposits are filtered for incorporation into the clear juice before vinification.

Red wines
Manual harvests. The grapes are then destemmed, crushed and transferred into a vat for wine making.

The delicate transformation of fruit into wine


The Château de Fontcreuse calls upon the most modern vinification techniques to preserve intact the aromas, fruitiness and lingering taste in the mouth of both the White and Rosé Wine.

Stainless steel vats are used in the vinification cellar, along with temperature controls.

The stainless steel vats are equipped with cooling jackets and apparatus.

This cooling technology regulates the alcoholic fermentation temperature of the juice to 13°, to allow the sugars to change to alcohol in a rational way, without haste, in order to preserve the aromas, the richness and volume of the wine to come.

Malolactic fermentation is then blocked guaranteeing optimum the freshness and acidity of the wine.

Then comes racking, and finally maturing can begin, with lies stirring to bring the fine “lies” into suspension twice in the same week.
This operation delivers an abundance of matter.
After the second racking, the wine is filtered and bottled to begin its lengthy maturation before its availability for consumption.

For the red, the equipment from which Fontcreuse allows for cold prefermentary maceration by remounting the juice in the vats for 21 days.
Malolactic fermentation and ageing are done in the barrels where the Wine is kept for 12 months.